Leopards & Guns: Qatar Buys Heavy Armor from Germany
In July 2012, Qatar’s government announced their interest in purchasing up to 200 Leopard 2A7 heavy tanks from Germany. The tanks would more than replace Qatar’s existing set of 30-40 French AMX-30 medium tanks, which are a 1970s era design. The deal was completed in 2013, and it turned out to be smaller but broader.
Aug 7/13: Germany’s Economics Ministry offers some information about recent weapon sales to the Gulf region, in response to a parliamentary question from Jan van Aken [Left Party]. In 2012, the Federal Security Council approved EUR 1.4 billion in shipments to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.
In the first 6 months of 2013, the figure was EUR 817 million, with Qatar receiving EUR 635 million worth. Source: Deutsche Welle, “Germany boosts arms exports to Qatar”.
April 18/13: KMW announces a EUR 1.89 billion (about $2.48 billion) contract with Qatar for 62 Leopard 2A7 main battle tanks, and 24 PzH-2000 heavy self-propelled 155mm howitzers. The contract includes peripheral equipment, training installations, and additional services. The release adds that:
“The systems delivered to Qatar by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann are intended to progressively replace the emirates outdated artillery and tanks of French and South African origin, which will be scrapped.”
The Qatari armed forces currently operate 22 AMX F3 self-propelled howitzers, and 12 of Denel’s G5 towed howitzers. The PzH-2000’s mobility, ability to use precision-guided shells, and inherent ability to place multiple rounds on target in a very short time, should more than suffice to replace both artillery systems. KMW [PDF].
July 30/12: Der Spiegel reports that Qatar’s government have announced their interest in purchasing up to 200 Leopard 2A7 heavy tanks from Germany, in a deal that could be worth up to EUR 2 billion/ $2.46 billion. Fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Saudi Arabia is interested in 600-800 of these tanks, and a win in both countries could keep German armor manufacturers busy for quite some time. A delegation from KMW has reportedly already been to Qatar.
“Qatar’s desire to purchase the tanks has yet to be discussed in the Federal Security Council. But there are indications that both the Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology are inclined to give the deal their blessing. In fact, Qatar perfectly fits the type of country targeted by the Merkel Doctrine. The peninsula-nation has become one of Germany’s most important partners in the Gulf region. It took an active role in the fight against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and it has been supplying the Syrian resistance with weapons. It aims to become a stabilizing power in the region and declares itself to be pro-Western.”
Even so, there is considerable unease in Germany with respect to weapon exports generally, and exports to volatile Middle Eastern countries in particular.